Tomatillos to Green Sauce

I saw canned tomatillos in the shop the other day.  Aside from the fact they had travelled for miles and were $11.00 a can (!), they grow like weeds, and are so much better fresh. And if you are going to bottle them it makes sense to me to do them as green sauce – ready to make enchiladas or tacos when you open it.

tomatillos with lime and chiles

After a couple years of planting tomatillos they now spring up in my garden in early summer anywhere where the soil is dug. They scramble around on top of each other and will even climb up into ‘real’ weeds. Bees love their flowers which last all summer into Autumn.

They are big this year because of the rain, but this also means they are splitting and not keeping the way they normally do. The little paper husks which normally keep them dry and stop them from going off are wet and muddy this year, so the first step was to remove the husks and wash the fruit.

I also take the seeds out of the chiles so the sauce won’t be hot, and don’t add too many chiles so as to keep the sauce on the acid side. We can season the sauce as needed with chile oil when it’s opened. Everything after this is much like bottling tomato purée or sauce:

Roast the tomatillos and chiles with oil and salt and pepper:

tomatillos for green sauce

We roast them for about an hour in a medium hot oven, until they are juicy and starting to get brown on top.

tomatillos roasted

The roasted fruit then goes through a mouli grater. C likes his sauces to be smooth-ish, and a mouli takes out the skins and many of the seeds instead of chopping them up the way a blender would. It’s a little slower, but still fairly quick with a good mouli and a strong arm. C does the mouli and I clean up the mess. We are usually doing this at night, so we often stop and put the sauce in the fridge until the next night.

Then we heat it up, add the juice of a couple of limes and boil it in the pot while the jars are heating in the oven and the lids are sitting in boiling water.

green sauce canning

For a long time I used the water bath method, where you boil the jars after filling them. The lids I get now are too thin to cope with this, and all of our older friends who have years of experience swear by the ‘overflow’ method in any case. It is  quicker, easier and works better, so I’m glad I finally took their advice.


5 thoughts on “Tomatillos to Green Sauce

  1. Interesting. Can you explaining n the ‘overflow’ method. I bottle masses of tomato sauce and if I didn’t have to use a water bath it would make the job much easier. I like the sound of your tomatillo sauce recipe. This year two lots of tomatillos didn’t germinate but then I discovered lots of little plants growing where they had been last year so it looks like I’ll have some after all.

    1. That’s how it works for me, the ones which come up in the garden are much stronger than any I grow in pots.
      The overflow method is similar to the water bath, but without the water bath. It depends on having the sauce and jars sterile and hot, and the lids in boiling water. Heat the jars in the oven at 120 C for 20 minutes while simmering the sauce. Since you aren’t giving it it’s final sterilisation in the jar, there’s a little more risk of it going off. You take a jar out of the oven, fill it with the boiling sauce to about 3/8ths of an inch off the top, wipe the rim with boiled water from the lid bowl if necessary, put the lid on and tighten it down tight. As it cools it will seal.
      I mostly use it for tomato sauce, tomatillo sauce, and jellies – which are all quite acid. So far no problems in 2 years, about 100 bottles. There are still a few lids that don’t seal but nothing like the number I was getting with the water bath.
      I used to be worried that the tomato sauce might not be acid enough and could get botulism, but then I found out that it goes away if you cook it – and we always heat the sauce, usually for quite a while. I’m still careful to add lime juice to the tomatillos – it tastes better anyway and to use some acid tomatoes.

      1. Thanks for the detailed information. I’ve always used a water bath (I didn’t know there was another way). I had my first blown jar in 5 years this week so a good success rate but it is a faff.

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